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South Africa Plans To Secretly Move Rhinos To Safety

South Africa Plans To Secretly Move Rhinos To Safety

As part of a plan that sounds almost like a movie plot, 500 white rhinos will be evacuated from South Africa's Kruger National Park and secretly taken to new homes to protect them from poachers.

Although international trade in rhino horns has been illegal since 1977, demand remains high in some Asian countries, the BBC reports, where it is used both in traditional medicine and as a symbol of wealth. The Ministry for the Environment made the decision in an effort to stop the illegal hunting.

At the current rate, the species — 80% of which live in South Africa — is threatened with extinction. The latest bulletin from SANParks says poaching has hit the Kruger rhino population hard. The 2013 census showed that the park — which is roughly the same size as Wales or Israel — has between 8,400 and 9,600 white rhinos and around 2,000 black rhinos left.

Early leaked reports from the Ministry say that 250 will be sold to conservation-minded private individuals, and the other half will be moved to nature reserves, probably in neighboring Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana.

The operation will no doubt be complex because of the size of the animals. On average, a rhino weighs 2.5 tons. It will involve tracking the animals in rugged and remote bush, darting them with tranquilizers from helicopters and then moving them to safety. Moving each animal could cost up to $2,000.

File photos of black rhinos being moved — Photos: Michael Raimondo/WWF/Green Renaissance/ZUMA

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How WeChat Is Helping Bhutan's Disappearing Languages Find A New Voice

Phd candidate Tashi Dema, from the University of New England, discusses how social media apps, particularly WeChat, are helping to preserve local Bhutanese languages without a written alphabet. Dema argues that preservation of these languages has far-reaching benefits for the small Himalayan country's rich culture and tradition.

A monk in red performing while a sillouhet of a monk is being illuminated by their phone.

Monk performing while a sillouheted monk is on their phone

Source: Caterina Sanders/Unsplash
Tashi Dema

THIMPHU — Dechen, 40, grew up in Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. Her native language was Mangdip, also known as Nyenkha, as her parents are originally from central Bhutan. She went to schools in the city, where the curriculum was predominantly taught in Dzongkha, the national language, and English.

In Dechen’s house, everyone spoke Dzongkha. She only spoke her mother tongue when she had guests from her village, who could not understand Dzongkha and during her occasional visits to her village nestled in the mountains. Her mother tongue knowledge was limited.

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However, things have now changed.

With 90% of Bhutanese people using social media and social media penetrating all remotes areas in Bhutan, Dechen’s relatives in remote villages are connected on WeChat.

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